Holidays, gift giving, traveling, and sales are upon us, friends–whether we like it or not! 😛 Every year I post Gift Guides, and they are some of my favorite posts because I LOVE sharing good products!
HOW I DO GIFT GUIDES
Years ago I used to just round up a bunch of stuff that LOOKS good, but a couple years ago I switched to primarily recommending my husband’s and my favorite products. My husband is one of those people that researches everything, and he cares about really great products–both in utility and design. I feel like gift guides are so much more useful when you actually know that products are good or have been gifts people ended up loving. I haven’t tried everything listed, but I’ve tried most of them and can attest to them being amazing and helpful!
Also, my husband and I tend to love receiving and giving gifts that are on the more practical or utilitarian side. I personally hate stuff that looks good but isn’t good quality or doesn’t function well. You get a taste of that in how I review clothes, and it’s also true of how Benson and I review all other products in life. We care about design, but aesthetics are usually second to utility. We’ve learned through a lot of wasted money that if it looks great but annoys us when using it, we will inevitably get rid of it for something that functions better. Those aren’t everyone’s priorities, but those are ours and I wanted you to know that so that you have some context for my gift guides and what or how I recommend items.
Lastly, I repeat a lot of items from previous years. Like I said, many of these are items that Benson and I believe in and that are good quality, so they seldom change year to year. They last through heavy use over multiple years and we don’t feel the need to replace things because they’re amazing!
TODAY’S TRAVELER GIFT GUIDE
For a good decade I was probably on work/family trips at least 12 times a year. Thanks to that I have developed a great sense of helpful travel items. Get these for yourself or as gifts for someone who travels a lot! I use almost all of these, and we’ve gifted several to others who ended up loving them too! Read the paragraphs below to see which were favorites from recipients. You may be surprised!
1. Cardigan | 2. Leggings | 3. Tote | 4. Fleece Pullover
5. Water Bottle | 6. GoToobs | 7. Packing Cubes | 8. Sneakers
9. Cognac Weekender | 10. Weekender Backpack | 11. Twill Weekender
12. Toiletry Bag | 13. Portable Phone Charger | 14. Steamer
15. Jewelry Organizer | 16. Jewelry and Makeup Organizer | 17. Motherlode Luggage
18. Makeup Organizer | 19. Pink Makeup Organizer
20. Here We Go Luggage Tag | 21. Floral Luggage Tag
SIZING INFO: I’m 5’6″ and usually S/M or 6/8 in clothes, 8.5 to 9 in shoes. Sizes for all apparel listed below.
1. Oversized Cardigan – I’m always cold on flights and always make sure I have a layer. Oversized cardigans like these are my go-to cardigans in LIFE, and of course while traveling. Pair them with the leggings below (see Option 2) and some comfy sneakers (my favorites are THESE–memory foam footbed!) My absolute favorite oversized cardigans are from Nordstrom because of how they drape. I have them in multiple colors, and they can be found HERE!
2. Leggings – If you or whoever you’re buying a gift for likes being comfy while traveling, these leggings are amazing. They’re actually meant for working out, but people wear them for both working out and for athleisure (myself included). They are opaque, which is 🙌🏽 and have a comfy wide waistband which keeps them from slipping down, flattens a tummy, and doesn’t dig into your stomach. These are expensive but definitely worth it. The same way I’d pay $50 for a pair of jeans, I felt this price for leggings that could be worn for both working out and for athleisure looks was worth it. See my outfits with them HERE. I’m 5’6″ and usually size S/M or 6/8 and wear these in M.
3. Tote – My absolute favorite everyday tote is also my favorite travel buddy. I use it to hold my 15″ laptop, huge water bottle (see Option 5), small pouch that comes with the tote, small wallet, cardigan and/or scarf for layering on flights, phone and computer chargers, and snacks. It’d fit more, but that’s all I usually need. I have the black/cognac, and you can see me carrying it in all these outfit posts HERE.
4. Fleece Pullover – If you want something cozier than a cardigan, this pullover is adorable and a fan favorite! Its huge front pockets are great for stuffing things into quickly, like phone, ID, boarding pass, wallet, when you need to be handsfree. Comes in tons of colors, and I personally love the pink/cream and olive/cream too. See them HERE. I wear size M.
5. Water Bottle – I talked about this in multiple gift guides last year, and it will forever be in my gift guides. Benson and I are water bottle addicts. We had sooooo many water bottles, from Nalgenes to every different and new version of Contigo’s to other brands that are less popular, and this water bottle put a stop to all our water bottle hoarding. It comes in a ton of colors, a ton of sizes, and a few different types of water spouts (straws, normally screw top, flip caps). I have a 32oz, Benson has a 40oz, and Addie has the kid version. They are pretty expensive, but they are SO. GOOD. Keeps water cold up to 24 hours and hot up to 6! We have given these as gifts and years later, they’re still using them.
6. GoToobs – I’ve used mine for at least 11 years (!!!) and they’ve held up. I cannot express to you how much easier it is to get shampoo, conditioner, or lotion out of these than out of the cheaper ones from Target. Also, these are much easier to clean, and most importantly, they NEVER LEAK whereas I’ve always had problems with cheaper ones doing that. This is not a pretty or extravagant gift, but we have given them to our friends who travel as little as even just a few times a year and they LOVE them.
7. Packing Cubes – This is another gift we’ve given people, and honestly at first they’re like, “Ohhh, cool….thanks..?” But then after they finally USE them, we get texts like, “OMG THOSE THINGS ARE LIFE CHANGING!” I’ve watched my friend’s suitcases explode with clothes bursting everywhere once they open them. Packing cubes keep your suitcases sane and make it easy to find things. We’ve used our same set for at least 11 years and they are still going strong. They are also machine washable! We have separate colors for each person in our family. It’s SO nice to have everything so organized and easy to access! They come in a billion colors and a variety of sizes. One medium cube fits into half a carry on perfectly. See all the colors HERE.
8. Sneakers w/ Memory Foam – These are the comfiest sneakers I’ve ever tried because they have a memory foam footbed! Their sleek design is amazing and keeps super casual outfits looking chic. They come in tons of colors that rotate every season, so check them out HERE. I wear size 9. They’re also on sale HERE! See the ways I’ve worn the black pair HERE.
9, 10, &11. Weekenders – I have friends who own Option 9 and Option 11 (some of whom we gave Option 11 to as gifts!) and both garner lots of compliments. I don’t really use weekenders, or else I’d own Option 9 in a heartbeat. (I’d rather use a rolling carry-on and my tote, even for car rides, and I try to limit what I bring to those constraints.) Option 10 is as big as a weekender but can be worn as a backpack to be hands-free.
12. Toiletry Bag – Another not luxurious looking gift, but SO useful, and SUCH great quality. I’ve used mine for 8 years, traveling AT LEAST 12 times per year, and it is still going strong! Someone gave it to me as a gift, and while I wasn’t really impressed or wowed by it initially, as the years have gone on I’ve appreciated how fabulous of a gift it was. It holds quite a bit while being more compact than stand-up toiletry bags I’ve had. Like I said, it’s also held up over tons and tons and tons of travel through yearsssss and it still looks new–for a very affordable price! See all the colors HERE.
13. Portable Phone Charger – Anyone who is on the go can appreciate a portable phone charger. I don’t own this one yet, but it has close to 9,000 reviews on Amazon and 4.6 stars! There’s another one that’s slimmer and more powerful so it can charge an iPad as well–and it comes in a pretty white! That one has 13,800 reviews and 4.5 stars. CRAZY! Check out the slimmer one HERE.
14. Steamer – I’ve talked about steamers versus irons several times on Instastories in the last few months. Long story short: I loathed ironing and never did it, but for some reason steaming clothes is fun and painless! A travel steamer means you don’t have to worry about clothes getting wrinkled when packed. This one is my favorite, you can read all about why HERE.
15. Jewelry Organizer – This is my favorite because it has a huge panel in the middle to organize my beloved Nickel & Suede earrings! (See it in action HERE.) It’s also fairly flat and compact and has several zippered pockets for more organization. For statement necklaces, I put them in separate snack sized Ziplock bags so they don’t get tangled, then put them in this organizer. Get the jewelry organizer HERE!
16. Jewelry and Makeup Organizer – This is the same as above, except much thicker as it has a bottom compartment for makeup. I bought this recently and have only used it once so far. If you don’t have a ton of makeup, this is a great compact solution! The main thing though is that I am not sure how I feel about having jewelry and makeup together. On one hand I liked it, but on another hand sometimes I didn’t like having to zip up each side to grab the contents on the other side. I you will take your makeup out and display it on the counter at your destination, then this won’t be a problem. This could also be a good solution if you need even more space for statement necklaces or big bracelets.
17. Motherlode Luggage – We have have this in two different sizes and love it for traveling as a family. (I don’t use it when I travel solo–only carry-ons for me!) We originally had a huge one, and when we needed a second one to lug around our kid’s stuff we got a size smaller. This has two main sections: a soft case top portion and a hard shell bottom. The hard shell bottom has moveable dividers for extra organization. Plus there are other zippered pockets on the interior and exterior as you can kinda see in the picture. We store clothes in packing cubes in the soft top section and all of Addie’s little things in the bottom. Stuff like her video monitor, sound machine, books, toys, etc. We like that smaller random things are more organized while being protected by the hard shell. Also, these bags roll veryyyyy smoothly across airports!
18 & 19. Makeup Cases – These are rather large compared to Option 16 (around 9″ or more) and better if you’re carrying more makeup. What I love about these is 1) you can adjust the compartments. That ensures your makeup will stay secure during travel. 2) There’s a flap over the brushes which keeps excess makeup from rubbing off onto everything else. You can also use these to hold vitamins, lotion, or other random things while traveling. Check out Option 18 or Option 19.
20 & 21. Luggage Tags – You can’t go wrong with a set of luggage tags. Especially pretty ones! It’s the kind of thing that I may not buy for myself but would really appreciate as a gift. TOTALLY beats having to write your info on those ugly pieces of paper at the airport. And helps you identify your suitcase quickly! Shop Option 20 and Option 21.
Any of these seem like they’d be good for you or someone you know?
SPECIAL NOTE: THANKSGIVING PACKING LISTS
For the last 6 years I’ve created a packing post for Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, thanks to kidney stones I couldn’t put one together this year. However, there are SIX previous ones on the blog right HERE! (Look for ones with a November date.)
If you’re looking for something new, you can also use the Fall Starter Kit Wardrobe Guide! (And yes, one for winter will be coming out–if my kidney stones let me get to it! 😩)